Illinois vs. Southern Illinois
Saturday, August 31st – at Memorial Stadium; Champaign, Illinois
- Kickoff - 11:00 a.m. (CST)
- Television – Big Ten Network
- Radio – Fighting Illini Radio Network | Sirius/XM Radio (135/195)
- Weather – Sunny, 66-92 degrees, 33% precipitation (via accuweather).
- Odds – Illini are listed as 17-point favorites (via oddsshark).
- 4th meeting, Fighting Illini lead series (3-0).
- Seven current Illini played in the 2010 win over SIU. QB Nathan Scheelhaase and TE Evan Wilson started while LB Jonathan Brown, then-DB Steve Hull, DL Tim Kynard, WR Ryan Lankford and then-QB Miles Osei also saw action against SIU as freshmen.
- Illinois is 12-0 all-time against FCS opponents, and all but one of those wins have been by at least 21 points.
Beckman on how the offensive line has grown:
“I think Coach Ricker has done a phenomenal job of bonding a group together. What you want to see as a head football acoch and an offensive line coach is to continue to see them jell and the younger guys that are behind them to start being able to progress in their game so that they get better. I think depth is another concern that we have at that position, so the Joe Spencers and the Christian DiLauros and Austin Schmidts and Dallas Hinkhouses, they have to continue to get their game better so that we can build that offensive line into a solid unit of eight instead of a solid unit of six.” (Source: fightingillini.com)
Beckman on using more players because of the forecast calling for hot weather:
“I know our players have done a phenomenal job throughout the summer and throughout camp. Now, camp wasn’t as hot as it has been before. My philosophy, regardless of the weather, is to play your twos and your threes. The only way a player’s gonna get better is to play and to be a part of going out there on the football field in a game situation. You’re going to see some freshmen out there playing on Saturday. That’s just how we’re going to become a better football team. I just don’t think we’re going to get any better as a football team or as a unit if we don’t play. Regardless of the weather and regardless of that, you’re going to see some twos and a couple two-and-a-halfs – we don’t even have threes – a couple of them playing.” (Source: fightingillini.com)
What did you do to install a new attitude in the team?
“As I tell them and as I tell everybody, it’s not about what I do. It’s about what they do. As a head football coach, you have to instill the proper things but the bottom line is they have to come out and perform it and believe in it. What I’ve seen with this football team is a credit to what our players have done after the Northwestern game. For the last nine months, there’s been a belief and a sense of urgency to perform as a family, perform as a team and those players have been the ones – along with the coaching staff – to formulate it and then to build off of it. As a coach, seeing what they did this summer, I was proud of the way they got better, not just as football players, but we got better as a team.” (Source: fightingillini.com)
Where’s the anxiety level for the season?
“Huge, anxious. Again, you want to see how far this team has grown. That’s all going to be shown with what we do on Saturday at 11 o’clock. What our players have shown us has been huge. From classroom to discipline to being involved in this community, it’s leaps and bounds from what it was before. So now it’s time to translate that on the football field. There’s always correlations between that, in my opinion. I’ve always seen it in the teams that I’ve been around, that if you’re doing things right off the field, then on the field, it should pay off.”(Source: fightingillini.com)
Three Keys to Victory
- The number 1 key to victory this week will be establishing physical dominance on the offensive line and controlling the tempo of the game. If the Illini execute offensively, and limit penalties to stay out of 3rd and long situations, they will have the chance to put away SIU without much trouble. (Ryan Kraemer)
- The ground game is going to be the make or break for both teams. If the Illini can get, what I think is, one of the most dangerous backfields in the Big Ten going early then they can make this a blowout. Stopping the Salukis run game will be the key to Illinois dominance. Run and stop the run will be the winning formula. (Rees Woodcock)
- For Illinois to win this weekend, they have to be playing to their ability. Not to take anything away from Southern Illinois, but the are a FCS team, and Illinois is still, no matter how poorly they look, a Big Ten team. Do not take that statement as a personal attack on the Salukis. It is simply stating the fact that the talent level at Illinois should prove to overmatch SIU, allowing Illinois to win easily. Let’s be honest…Vegas has Southern as a 17-point underdog. All bias aside whether you’re against or for the Illini…it would be shocking if Illinois found a way to lose this game. (Austin Jabs)
- It will be interesting to see how the Illinois Fighting Illini look on offense against Southern Illinois. Illini fans have heard nothing but good things from Bill Cubit about how the players are adapting to his offensive system. Scheelhaase will be the starter for the Illini, but it will be interesting to see if Illini fans get to see either Reilly O’Toole or Aaron Bailey in Week One. Cubit has said that the team will not redshirt Bailey because he can “help them win now.”
- The Salukis should have a strong rushing performance from Mika’il McCall, Ken Malcome, and Tay Willis. Although SIU has a 5th year senior at QB, the rushing attack should be Illinois’ main point of concern on defense. If SIU can get running on the Illini, it will be a long day.
- Illinois has had success against the FCS in the past, but this season has already seen some big upsets from FCS schools. On Thursday, Towson upset Connecticut, 33-18, and the North Dakota State Bison (defending FCS Champs) were able to upset Kansas State, 24-21, on Friday.
[Also read: Southern Illinois' Offensive Preview]
Coming into their 2013 season opener, the Fighting Illini will be without five players due to injuries. The five players that will not “suit up” for the Illini are Eric Finney, Ralph Cooper, Scott McDowell, Ted Karras, and Vontrell Williams. The absences of Karras and McDowell will hurt the Illini the most because of the fact that Illinois will need to be physical on the offensive line, but it should not change the outcome of the game.
[Also read: Southern Illinois' Defensive Preview]
As we know from Tim Beckman’s interviews at the Big Ten Media Days, the SIU game is the only thing on the minds of the Illinois players and coaches heading into the 2013 season. Last season, the Fighting Illini played one game against a FCS opponent and won 44-0 without Nathan Scheelhasse due to injury. Expect Illinois to pull out an easy win against the Salukis, and it will be interesting to see how the offense does in Bill Cubit’s first game as Illinois’ offensive coordinator.
Final Score: Illinois 35, Southern Illinois 10
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